Growing up, I was obsessed with the idea of going to university and getting a degree. I wanted to be the first in my family to go, I wanted the pride of saying I have a degree, but more than anything, I wanted success.
I have always been hungry for it – I have always desired to be the best at whatever I do. This fierce determination has always been what drives me and it is something that I use to my advantage every day.
In August 2011, I received the news: I had been accepted into my first choice of university! Naturally, I was over the moon. It felt like all my hard work had paid dividends.
At this point, I must confess that I was guilty of naivety and complacency. In my mind, I had made it – university was my goal and I was going.
However, by the turn of the year, I knew that I would not complete my degree. It didn’t feel right. Something just didn't connect and I knew, although I was reluctant to accept it, I had to leave.
This was a tough period for me. University was what I had dreamed about for years and for it not to be the path I was supposed to follow demoralised me. I didn't even consider an apprenticeship at this point – I had a very narrow minded and ignorant view of them and believed them to be for school drop-outs and people who left with school with few qualifications.
I could not be happier to be wrong. Their exponential growth in the last five years or so, particularly since the rise in tuition fees, speaks for itself. One cannot help but sit up and take notice of what is going on. Increasingly often, young people with university-standard A Level grades are choosing to instead undertake an apprenticeship.
Why is this? Because it is on-the-job training, and you’re earning money while getting a qualification? Of course, but these savvy young minds are realising that academic qualifications just aren’t as valuable as they used to be.
The key to success in today’s climate is to find an edge over the other candidates. Life and work experience is that edge, meaning the apprenticeship is an ideal way to find a route into a career.
Three pm on Wednesday 15th January 2014 – three hours before the deadline for university applications. My finger is on the mouse, the cursor hovered over the “submit” button on my application.
I've chosen to apply for a Creative and Professional Writing with English Language degree, with a view to starting a career in social media and marketing. The longing for progression in my career had once again overcome me.
Before I clicked the button, I remembered that social media apprenticeships had been mentioned to me, so I checked online for vacancies and more information about apprenticeships in general to see if it could be the right choice for me.
I came across a vacancy with The Juice Academy at West Midlands Fire Service. Immediately a smile came across my face. I was excited from the first line of reading the advert. I applied, and happily I was accepted after being selected from a group of candidates at a “boot camp.”
I have just started my training at The Juice Academy, based in Manchester, and I could not be happier that I made the last minute decision not to apply to university.
It's a fantastically well run organisation with genuine intentions to get young people like myself into an industry where there is a frighteningly large skills gap.
As someone who hopes to be an employer myself in the future, I would encourage young people to consider an apprenticeship.
The simple fact is, times are changing, and employers are looking for something more from potential employees. They want to build for the future now, which is why they are employing younger people and training them from the very basics.
This is why I personally champion the apprenticeship as possibly the best way for young people to get into their chosen career.